of urgency required by the times in which they were forged. recently, "the new york times" columnist david brooks sum a -- summarized this concept well when he wrote that there are policies that are not permanently right and that situations matter most. tax cuts might be right in one decade but wrong the next. title regulations might be right one decade but if sclerosis sets in, then deregulation might be in order. madam president, as we confront the impending confluence of issues known as the fiscal cliff, we are at a moment of major significance that requires the applications of the principle that brooks describes, and for the sake of the country, we must demonstrate to the american people that we are, in fact, capable of making the big decisions by putting in place an agreement and a framework to avoid the fiscal cliff before we adjourn this year. madam president, we are surrounded by history perpetually here in the senate as well as throughout the capitol. how could we not be inspired by it to rise to this occasion? indeed, if you know history, you understand the very story of america'